I have begun a 10 month leadership program through the Coaches Training Institute. Little did I know the dramatic and impressive changes I would make after just the first week. On our first retreat, we were offered the opportunity to face our fear by climbing a 40 foot pole, standing on the top of it and jumping toward a trapeze, attached the entire time to a safety line.
I decided to go second so there wasn’t much time for my brain to slip into fear. The first person that went climbed and jumped with ease. When it was my turn, I stood at the bottom of the 40ft pole breathing and feeling into my body. With cueing from our program leader, I stated my life purpose: I am the prism that reflects the magic of your inner rainbow. I stated what I needed from my fellow climbers: that they cheer me on and most of all that they send the energy from their hearts out to me as I rose. I stated my intention: to let my body lead and my heart be at the forefront.
I began to climb the ladder slowly and cautiously one foot at a time feeling my strength. After 10 or so steps, the ladder ended and pegs began. I grabbed onto the footholds pulling myself up one peg at a time, all the while repeating various affirmations “I am strong, I’m in my body, my body knows.” The fear began. I progressed slowly, cautiously feeling into my body and the strength of my legs, the power of my core and arms. The pegs ended. I was at the top of the pole. My hands grabbed on to the circular cap at the top of the pole. Like a loose lid, the cap rotated and felt wobbly, unsteady. I grabbed hold as best I could thinking “I have nothing to hold onto!” With extreme dedication and meticulous intention, I pushed myself up to sit on the rotating, unstable top of the pole. But now, sitting on my butt, I had nowhere else to go. I was in a tough position. I had to delicately maneuver myself to bring the bottom of my foot to the top of the pole. And then the other foot. My body was screaming “DANGER” as the pole shook and my legs shivered frantically. I was squatting and needed to stand upright, tall and strong. The words “I can’t” came like lightning out of my mouth. Not wanting to put those words out into the universe, I instantly felt my Truth and immediately countered them with an affirmation “I am strong. I am alive. Yeshua be with me.”
I heard my tribe rooting for me, reminding me of my strengths, giving me perspective, reminding me I’ve got this. As I stood shaking and frightened at the top of that pole, my legs were quivering. I breathed deep into my belly. I felt my heart. I felt the strength of my body. Again I called out for my spirit guide “Yeshua, I need you. Be with me.” I needed to turn halfway around in order to face the trapeze and make the leap. There was barely room for my feet on the cap of the pole. It wobbled and shook… I wobbled and shook. My legs felt like they were being electrocuted, filled with a vibrant electric energy I couldn’t calm. I continued to breathe into my belly hearing the words “I can’t.” Over and over I called out my affirmation and absorbed the energy from the group below that were there supporting me, offering me every ounce of encouragement they had to give. The inner dialogue continually had to be quieted and surpassed as I absorbed their complete faith in my ability to do this. Slowly I rotated to the trapeze that hung before me maybe 3 feet away.
The truth of it was, there was absolutely no chance of “falling.” I was wearing a harness securely attached to cords being belayed by two competent, well-trained event staff. My fear was not real and yet it was so alive. My tribe was calling out to me that it was time to jump. Eventually, I did. Without any jarring, I slid back to the earth feeling a moment of relief.
The second that my feet touched the ground and my tribe’s open arms reached for me, my body, mind and spirit gave in. My butt gently landed on the ground and I cried. My body shook and trembled and I wept. My body relived the trauma of my Half Dome Dance. Fear came flooding out so intensely I was unable to catch my breath. My chest heaved… I couldn’t breathe. In desperation I opened my eyes gasping. I heard others’ tears and felt their deep, deep, deep compassion. With their guidance my breath began to calm. I breathed into my belly. Placing my hand on my chest, my breath returned, slow and deep. Over and over, either from opening my eyes and seeing reality or fear sneaking to my consciousness again, the panic seeped in. As I sobbed, my chest heaved, not allowing air in. My group helped me recover from it and it would start again. Eventually, they moved me over to a safe area, slowly attempting to bring me back to myself. I complained of not being able move my hand, my leg. I felt a pulsating sensation on the entire left side of my body from head to toe. It felt as if I was just coming off Novocain or that feeling when your foot’s asleep – but it covered the entire left side of my body. I had difficulty with sensation in my left hand, especially the forefinger, and couldn’t feel my foot or calf and the left side of my face was spastically pulsing. The hyperventilating would start again. And then I’d breathe into my belly again and calm would return.
What felt like two hours, I am told, was probably only 30 minutes climbing and maybe 30 minutes of post traumatic stress. Though my mind soon became more available, my body was still shivering and weak. Eventually I could stand on my own. And with help, I took a few steps. I returned to my tribe to watch the remainder of the challenge as each of them, one by one, faced this contrived fear of falling. The event was absolutely exhausting and yet absolutely necessary. After nearly 5 years, that cathartic release was desperate to spill out.
Even though it was me that experienced every second of that, there remains a disassociation I assume my mind believes will keep it safe. In facing this climbing-the-pole event, my intention was to let my body lead. It certainly did! My body was in charge. It cried out. It needed to unravel into its fear.
As I reflect back at to this pole jumping event, I am completely amazed, even shocked at my determination to do it. My perseverance and bravery baffle me and yet events like this highlight a strength I forget I have. My heart, my soul, can sometimes be so much stronger than this body I am tethered to. Forgive me body – my intention is to connect with you, to reassure you, to bring my body and my mind in alignment with my vibrant Self.
So here I am nearing the fifth anniversary of my Half Dome Dance and I continue to heal, I continue to unfold as I face my fear and step in to my potential.
Thank you to EVERY one of those involved in this experience. Like my Half Dome Dance, I needed every one of you… you each played a role and we learned and experienced together.
Climbing video clips to follow…